Writing to Tell Your Story: Making It Personal
January 3, 2018 § 3 Comments
By Holley Oxley
In sixth grade, I sat in the classroom, reading the genetics chapter in my science textbook, and in looking at the sex-linked chromosome section, I saw my specific genetic disorder, called Turner’s Syndrome. I had been diagnosed at five, and while certain characteristics gave some indication of something going on with me, it wasn’t necessarily easy to tell I had it. After class, I walked up to my teacher and excitedly explained that I had found this in the textbook. She was also excited and asked if I wanted to share with the class the next day. Shocked, I explained that while I understood that I was diagnosed with the disorder, I did not know enough to talk to the class, but my mom, a lab technician, might. I then agreed to talk to my mom and see if she could come to talk to the class, and off I went.
Two days later, my mom came to my class, and after reviewing what we had read in the textbook, she talked about how I specially presented. Basically, in Turner’s girls are missing part of one of their X chromosomes, which makes the body react in different ways. For me, it was droopy eyes, short stature, and other noticeable traits, as well as some spatial problems.
When it came time to ask questions, I was excited, thinking I would impress my peers both with my knowledge and in bringing in my mom.
However, the first question, “so is she a hermaphrodite or something?” instantly crashed my buzz, and it only got worse from there.
Questions like “Why does she have boobs then?” and “Does she had a period?” followed and although I answered the questions, I was cognizant of the fact that students found this weird, not cool.
However, as time went on, I began to share more and more of my experiences, and found that some of the students were interested, and at least understood me more. As someone who was sick a lot, on top of moving several times during elementary and middle school, I realized that in being absent a lot, people tended to fill in their own story about who I was and in sharing more, I got to create an understanding of who I was.
Furthermore, in overcoming the awkward questions posed in class, I began to feel comfortable in sharing big pieces of myself, and as I began to write, was not as self-conscious as others because I had already shared a lot verbally.
Writing to me, is a place to work out yourself and share these pieces as you figure them out. Your morals, ethics, and understanding of the world shine through, and that is a big responsibility for a writer. Furthermore, as a person in a group that is not well represented in media, including books and TV, I feel that it is important to share my experience as often as I can so that people understand that although some people with my disorder struggle, just as many thrive. I may be more than my genetic disorder, but to me, finding a personal understanding in something is important, because the eleven-year-old girl looking at the textbook will always be excited to be represented, even if only in a small section of text.
Holley Oxley is a graduate student at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, currently working on her Master’s in English-Language Studies. She has been published in Fine Lines, a regional journal for students, and enjoys watching TV with her cat, Dahlia and traveling, which inspires her writing.